Mobile Impressions 2 - 3 Reviews

Every year seems to be the year of mobile. Well, we may just finally be there! Looking at all the trends, there is no doubt mobile is hot. I finally broke down and bought an iPad, and my habits have changed overnight! My life is now almost entirely mobile, with my TV, laptop, iPad and phone all connected via WiFi.

I’m now also exposed to more mobile advertising. One question that’s being asked by a few people: Is an impression on my iPad connected to my home WiFi a mobile impression? It may be a mobile device, but I am not mobile.

The industry is currently neglecting to acknowledge the difference between a mobile impression and a mobile device. At the recent Borrell Hyper-local conference in New York, Gordon Borrell used both terms in the same sentence. We simply cannot apply the term “mobile” to all impressions from a mobile device. A recent U.S. Wireless Market Update for 2011 found that 90% of all tablets use WiFi only. I’ve seen estimates that well over 50% of Web browsing on smart phones are also over WiFi. While billions of impressions may be generated over mobile devices, most are not all mobile.

Much of the mobile advertising talk centers around location-based services (LBS). LBS services are useful for some functions, but the number of users is incredibly limited. In May of 2011, the Pew Research Center found that only 4% of American adults use such services to share their location. Even then, I suspect that most only do it for certain applications like mapping or Foursquare check-ins. After Apple and others were exposed for collecting location data from iPhones, users became increasingly more cautious. I personally think LBS utilities on my phone are useful at times, but there simply isn’t enough scale to impact mobile advertising.

To further confuse the mobile ecosystem, cookies are ineffective. For the past decade, the display advertising ecosystem has rallied around the cookie as the sole container for all online – and now even offline – marketing data. Dozens of dotcom start-ups in the ad space have built the foundation of their business models on cookies. Many users hate them, and the government is increasingly suspect over user privacy issues. If your business model is predicated on cookies, you are in jeopardy. More importantly, almost none of the cookie-based targeting in display applies to mobile devices. This leaves an ever-increasing blind spot for mobile marketers.

Without cookies and any kind of scale in LBS usage, mobile marketers are beginning to rally around IP data as a useful proxy for targeting across mobile devices. If a mobile device is tethered to a WiFi connection, all of the valuable IP targeting parameters apply. We have been helping company’s utilize IP intelligence for well over a decade. The recent launch of Neustar’s IP Intelligence ad network allows marketers to target users based on their connection type, not their personal behavioral data. Things like device location for college students, small businesses, banks, travelers in airport WiFi, etc., can be useful when targeting certain market segments. When a device is connected over WiFi, all of the same IP Intelligence from the display world can be applied to mobile without the use of cookies or tracking individual users.

For mobile advertising to reach its true potential, the industry needs to start looking more closely at the nature of mobile impressions. The current “one-size-fits-all” approach is simply not going to work as more users cut the cord and rely entirely on their tablets or phones.
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